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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The A+T-rich genome of Herpesvirus saimiri contains a highly conserved gene for thymidylate synthase.

Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS) is the prototype member of a distinctive subset of lymphotropic herpesviruses (the gamma 2 subgroup) with A+T-rich coding sequences. In this paper, we show that cells productively infected with HVS contain high concentrations of a virus-specified thymidylate synthase (5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate:dUMP C-methyltransferase, EC; we identify the active polypeptide and present the sequence of the virus gene. The predicted amino acid sequence of the 294-residue subunit of the virus enzyme is 70% homologous with the sequence of the human enzyme and about 50% homologous with prokaryotic thymidylate synthases, illustrating the remarkable structural constraints imposed by the thymidylate synthase function. However, the presence of the enzyme is not a conserved property of herpesviruses. We find no evidence for a virus-encoded thymidylate synthase activity (or a homology to a thymidylate synthase sequence) in G+C-rich representatives of alpha 1 (e.g., herpes simplex viruses, 66-68% G+C), beta (i.e., human cytomegalovirus, 58-59% G+C), and gamma 1 (i.e., Epstein-Barr virus, 60% G+C) herpesvirus subgroups. The production of excess thymidylate by a virus thymidylate synthase in cells infected with an A+T-rich herpesvirus would provide one plausible source of biased mutations by the virus-encoded replicative enzymes, which we have previously suggested as the likely general cause of differences in the mean nucleotide compositions of herpesvirus genomes.[1]


  1. The A+T-rich genome of Herpesvirus saimiri contains a highly conserved gene for thymidylate synthase. Honess, R.W., Bodemer, W., Cameron, K.R., Niller, H.H., Fleckenstein, B., Randall, R.E. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1986) [Pubmed]
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